Yeah well, I won't write much because I am so utterly sick right now. It started last Wednesday on the way to New York, and now it's worse than ever. While I WAS miraculously healed of all my other ailments (I finally went to the NYC temple last Friday, after much deliberation, and a few phone calls -- and was surprised to learn that the stake center is attached to the temple and there were two brethren who offered me a blessing for the sick -- and I was healed of every infirmity except my ears). But yes, my sinus/ear pressure problem is back in full force, and is making me miserable. Being in the car or in the rain makes matters even worse. It feels like there are these big air pockets in my inner ear, and no popping or blowing can get rid of them. It's cyclic; sometimes it's ok, sometimes it's worse in the left ear, sometimes it's worse in the right. But no matter what, there are no doctors or specialists who seem to be able to help me. I have been pleading and praying to find a good ENT specialist who could finally cure me of this mysterious unknown chronic illness. I have been promised in three blessings over the past three years that through my faith and through the help from professionals, I would be healed. Yet I guess the time is not yet, because my recent blessings have told me to be patient, and that my trials and afflictions are for my good. And man, this is just the icing on the bitter cake. Everything that has happened this month has just culminated to this point, and I have done some pretty amazingly stupid things and made really stupid choices.
Somehow Jeremy's denial of God and the church has had such an influence on me. Like I said in an earlier post, I went through a period of doubt and questioning of my own; I felt that literal darkness fall upon me and cast its shadow of despair and doom. Yet I prevailed; I went to the temple, received an amazing witness (again of which I will not get into because of its sacredness) and continued along the path I was meant for.
Yet despite all this, I still ended up succombing to temptations that I had previously believed I had overcome. I also did a few things I never thought I would ever do, and yes, this is despite the amazing testimony and zeal to share the truth that I have recently found within myself. Satan is working so hard on me and trying to get me to falter wherever he can. While what I did last week was by no means giant in nature, it was just a simple thing, with what I thought was a very good reason/excuse...
Well ok I will admit it because I am human. I was so desperate to relax my body and to relieve it from the stress that had overcome it (a delayed reaction to the month's events) that I was literally trying everything I could. I took one and a half of my anti-depressant (don't worry folks, I have a prescription for that amount), I tried aromatherapy, a massager on my neck..a hot shower, lots of sleep...but all to no avail. The muscles in my neck and head were pounding and my feet were screaming in pain. What could I do?
So I went to Planet Hollywood for lunch and I ordered a mixed drink. I will admit that even the first sip had a profound effect on me. Suddenly my tummy was warm and fuzzy. But unlike that nice kind of warm and fuzzy you feel when you are in the arms of a loved one, or holding a child close to your heart as you rock him, or listening to the gentle purr of your favorite feline as you pet him or her...this was different. Yet it was completely my decision to try to use alcohol for medicinal purposes. For this reason I knew it wasn't a grave sin, yet after it all I still realized how ridiculous it was. Drinking the alcohol in and of itself wasn't what was ridiculous -- it was the fact that I thought it would actually help me; that breaking a covenant, however small it may be, in a desperate attempt to relax -- why did I actually think it would work?? All it did was get me tipsy. Sure it relaxed my mind...but my body still hurt. And on top of the hurt was this uncomfortable warmth that spread throughout my body and this fuzziness of mind. After I realized that it hadn't worked at all, I felt too unworthy to go to the temple as I had previously planned. After all, I had just drank down a glass of alcohol.
But luckily for me, Jess and I had a big argument and I stormed out of the store after cussing at her. Why do I say this was lucky? Because if it hadn't happened, I don't think I would have been so determined to fix what was broken within me. I know she too says she learned something about herself and for that reason was grateful for the fight...but I realized that I did, too. While I was perfectly comfortable being on my own in New York City, and was more than willing to pay for a one-way ticket back to Madison, I realized after storming 10 blocks in high heels that would be stolen only hours later, that my ridiculous ideas that the things of the world, whether they be a man's desire for me, that physical attraction and lust that results from flirting, or simply a glass of alcohol -- I realized this ideas that I had so easily succombed to were only making me more miserable. While I felt completely unworthy to enter that holy temple, I realized I needed to then more than ever. I realized that I had lost touch with God, and had lost my grasp of reality -- I had forgotten who I was and in turn I had forgotten Him and His love for me. I had forgotten what the Atonement was about. But by gads, as I rode in that taxi the 20 blocks it took me to the Manhattan temple, I was determined to find what I had lost. I knew I had just barely lost it; and that my rebellion and belligerence weren't horrendous in nature...I also knew that if I continued down that road, however, that those "small" rebellions would turn into things that were greater. For once I was grateful for the fact that I was alone, with no male companion, and I was grateful for the infirmities that had come over me. Maybe this gratitude didn't last a long time, but it lasted long enough to get me to where I needed to go.
And as soon as I entered that temple, peace literally bound up my broken, confused and contrite heart. Sure, I could still hear the subway rumbling below its floors, and I knew the big city was just outside its doors, ready to swallow me up if I let it; but here I found myself in a sanctuary. I realized that my spirit craved that peace more than my body craved for the rest and relaxation that I wasn't able to give it. My spirit needed healing before I could heal my body and before I could heal it from some of its renewed or newly found genetic addictions. While I did not have my temple recommend with me, I was able to speak with the temple president who found two brethren in the stake center who offered to help. Tears of gratitude cascaded down my cheeks as they warmly embraced my hands and called me "sister". While yes, there are plenty of people in the church who have made my life and the lives of people I know and love literally hell, it still means so much to know that wherever I am, be it in Spain, in Wisconsin, in Utah, or in New York City, I could find family -- I could find people who would love me without knowing me, and who would help me in any way they could. What peace it brought upon my heart to know that I can call upon that great priesthood no matter where I am, and seek its healing powers for both my spirit and my body. How grateful and at peace I was to remember that I belonged to the only church on this earth that had the full authority to hold that sacred priesthood; to know that this church was based upon the primitive church that Christ established here on the earth around 2000 years ago. All my fears were wiped away as those hands were placed on my head and I was told that I would be healed enough to do what I needed to do, and to accomplish what I needed to accomplish, but only through my faith and the obedience to the commandments of God. I knew then that the minute I stood up, the chafing would disappear and my feet would feel light once more. I remember thanking the brethren tearfully and then slowly leaving that beautiful sanctuary to enter back into the world outside. What a difference I felt! Yet I knew I had to get on with my life, and I had to be strong. A family was leaving a taxi cab at the curb so I jumped in it and had the young man drive me back to 42nd and 8th. I realized that what I had been told in my blessing was true. When I got out of the cab, I found that my infirmities were no longer with me. I called Jess and told her I was healed, and then we met up and apologized to each other. The chafing and the aching feet didn't return. My ear pressure did, but it was minute enough to prevent me from major complaint throughout the trip home and I was able to drive a few hours more than I was on the way to New York.
Upon my return home, however, it flared up. I figured this would happen, considering the amount of stress that I felt and also knowing that it's been a few years since the last flare up. During a blessing tonight I was reminded that I may have to deal with this for awhile more but to be patient. I was also, ironically, reminded three times to keep the Word of Wisdom. I found this odd, considering I have never had a problem with it before, and the fact that I have been following it more closely in terms of increasing my wheat intake, decreasing my meat intake, and drinking more water and eating more veggies...well, the only thing I could think of was that it was referring to my recent transgression against it and any future temptations that I might be faced with. And I'm grateful for this counsel, because just today I was considering for whatever reason that I should go and get something to take as "medicine" that would help me relax. But speaking with my father on the phone today, and even he admitting to me that alcohol is the most dangerous drug there is (and he would know....being an on again/off again alcoholic himself and coming from that kind of family situation as did my mother) -- well, that, and the fact that he informed me for the first time that he was proud of me and respected me for not drinking, well, I realized that I didn't want to head down that road that he had and that so many of my ancestors have before him. I told him about NYC and it shocked him, yet this is when he told me how proud he was of me and my decision to not drink. I love my father, and I'm grateful for his phone call. I'm grateful that he stands as a reminder to me to not allow it to even become a temptation.
It's funny that it even has and that I had to be counseled against it, because I have never in my life had a problem with it. Peer pressure was something I dismissed with scorn. Yet I never thought about how my own body and psychology might someday be the cause or reason for succombing.
Well, I have learned another lesson -- about myself AND about God's love for me. How grateful I am that His love is stubborn and unmoving, and that He will do all He can to protect me and to encourage me down the right paths, and when I choose the wrong ones, He will do whatever He can to push me again towards that iron rod. I can now see even more clearly how Satan has cleverly tried to again lead me away, and while I have fallen several times, more so in the past two weeks than I have in the past two years, in all honesty...I know that I'm a survivor. And I know that I love God, and that I love His church. I'm grateful even more so for commandments; especially those which I still have problems keeping. They enable me to progress and to keep learning more and more each day.